News from the Tennessee Valley Sports
MONDAY, MAY 28, 2007

Paul Stackhouse fights a 22-pound king mackerel during a trip on the Shamrock II.
Courtesy photo by Jay Stackhouse
Paul Stackhouse fights a 22-pound king mackerel during a trip on the Shamrock II.

Offshore charter trips satisfy hunger for fishing

Now that most area schools are out for summer vacation, many people are preparing for a trip to the Alabama and Florida Gulf coasts.

Last week, I wrote about tips on catching saltwater fish from the beach. And after receiving a number of requests for charter boat fishing forecasts, I called good friend Eddie Dykes, who is captain of the Shamrock II, which is docked in the East Pass Marina in Destin, Fla.

As expected during May and June, fishing offshore from the Emerald Coast is nothing less than red-hot.

“People are having a great time and catching a lot of fish,” Dykes said. “It doesn’t matter how far we go out or how long the trip is, we are catching plenty of fish.”

The Shamrock II accepts charters of 4, 6, 8, 10 or 12 hours. Under certain circumstances, you can make arrangements for different hours or types of tours.

For a party to go out on a four-hour trip, the boat captains in Destin or even Alabama’s Orange Beach are limited in what species they can go after. Most of the time on short trips, you can expect to troll for king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, bonita and even cobia. These fish can be found easily much of the time in shallow waters within a few miles of the beach.

On a recent four-hour trip, Dykes and his 47-foot Shamrock II started trolling and had a limit of kings in less than one hour. On the next day, he booked another short trip but it took longer to get a limit of king mackerel.

For guests who wish to catch a few red snapper, a six-hour trip is helpful, but don’t expect to hook-up with a lot of the bigger reds. For the larger snappers, I strongly recommend an 8- or 10-hour trip at least.

An important item to remember is that the marinas where the charter boats launch from may be closer to areas like the snapper grounds than others. The length of the trips may vary greatly when targeting a certain species of saltwater fish. There also can be a major difference when taking off from Orange Beach rather than going from Destin or Panama City Beach. Each area has its own specialties, and the captains know how to put together an exciting trip.

“We have been catching some really good amberjacks,” Dykes said. “But to catch some big keepers, it’s best to book a 12-hour trip. A long trip can also provide some really big grouper which are further out in deeper water.”

Many people consider grouper to be a better eating fish than red snapper. Also, just about anywhere you go, it’s possible to catch plenty of my favorite table-food species — triggerfish.

The triggers were considered a trash fish many years ago until the word spread about the delicious white meat they can provide.

The size limits and creel limits are different, depending on where you go and how far out you plan to fish. The boat captains will know the regulations, but investigating this yourself before an outing is something fun and interesting to do. For me, it’s like warming up for a big baseball game.

To find out more about deep-sea fishing from the Northwest panhandle of Florida, call Dykes at (850) 837-2431.

Mr. Redneck

Buckmasters has come up with an idea that should interest a lot of people.

Comedian Jeff Foxworthy, who is an avid hunter, is a frequent guest of Jackie Bushman, chief executive officer and founder of Buckmasters.

The new idea involves Foxworthy answering questions that you send in. And it doesn’t have to be a question concerning hunting, either. Buckmasters notes it is expecting plenty of questions about the Southern lifestyle that some people enjoy.

To send in a question, write to It is requested that you give your full name, hometown and state. Also, only one question per person will be allowed.

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Paul Stackhouse
Paul Stackhouse

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